On working with consultants

May 11, 2011

Lots of people will parody the work of consultants — suggesting that we’ll contract for a study of whether to do a study studying why a study might be helpful. But forget that foolishness.  A good consultant will work with their client(s) to identify clear goals, important questions, kinds of knowledge that must be transmitted or answers that must be obtained.

I believe we need to teach good “clienting” just as we learn good consulting. My best clients work with me to define goals, they welcome surprises, and allow space to make changes based on what they learn. They know that they’re getting value from my work. Or, if they don’t, they initiate a meeting or other process to set things straight.

Yes, of course there are times when I can see an issue that I believe should be addressed, and the client does not.  It’s my challenge to suggest a project that will, in the end, provide value for the client.  I may or may not convince the client that the need is real, and that sufficient budget should be allocated to address it.

Let me stop here, and ask you what teaching good “clienting” should mean, what needs to be taught.

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